Rhymes With Smash!

The musings of Megan Paasch, and other stuff.

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

By Jove, I Think I’ve Got It!

I am happy to announce that I am THIS close (imagine my thumb and finger held really close together) to starting back up on the draft of my W.I.P. I have a few more minor things to figure out tonight, and then I will be ready to go! The one major hold up for me has been figuring out the reasons – the big WHYs – behind the plot. Why does the Spirit return? Why does it choose Charlotte? I wasn’t comfortable with a convenient explanation such as “because she’s the one,” or “because some random prophecy said so.” I wanted the reason to be more tangible than that. And I found it. And it’s so simple. And I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before.

It came to me today out of the blue, and at the last possible moment, because I set a goal for myself to be ready to start a new draft by August 1st. That’s tomorrow. Wow.

I haven’t been as thorough with the outlining process as I said I would here. For instance, I haven’t mapped out locations, but I have thought long and hard about them. I haven’t created a timeline, I haven’t figured out everyone’s backstory, and I certainly haven’t created a detailed, scene-by-scene outline. But I have done (for me) the important bits. I know the main plot points. I understand my characters: their faults, their strengths, and what drives them. I even have a few scenes written down on index cards and put in order, and I plan to add to these as I go along. I’m comfortable with it now, and I’m ready to go.

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Random Phantom Earworm of the Week: The Great Escape Theme Song

I have a tendency (I’m sure we all do) to have a song pop into my head from nowhere, and stay there.  It won’t be from anything I can recall having heard during the day, or anything that I’ve seen. It just shows up, and I won’t even realize it until I catch myself humming it. I’ve taken to calling these songs “Random Phantom Earworms.”  Last night, it was the theme song from “The Great Escape.” I haven’t seen that movie since I was a kid. It was so bizarre, that I tweeted about it, and then I had an idea. What if I started a blog series called “Random Phantom Earworm of the Week,” where I pick whichever song most recently lodged itself into my brain, and use it as a writing prompt? It can be a fictional story inspired by the song, poetry (though not likely – I don’t write much poetry), or any memories or feelings that particular song dredges up. Today, I will treat you to the latter.

So here it is: The Random Phantom Earworm of the Week: The Great Escape Theme Song:

Ah, the memories – sacked out on cushions on the floor, my parents on the brown and orange striped sofa behind me in our cool basement on a summer evening, scraping out the last bits of ice cream and chocolate sauce from the bottom of our bowls. The cathode-ray tube television would be before us – a gigantic (for the time) cube encased in wood with dusty cable box, VCR, and stereo stacked on top. Behind it, on a ledge on the wall created by the house’s foundation, were rows and rows of VHS tapes. Mostly store bought, but occassionally taped off the tv as well, when a film was not available to buy – the analog version of a DVR. Usually there were three movies to one of these tapes, and if you wanted to watch the one at the end, you had to fast forward through the first two. This was not a problem. We were much more patient then, in the days before the internet and instant gratification. I remember the whirring as we sped through the images and the clunk when we found the right spot and hit stop. Sometimes we would speed right past it and have to back-track.

We had all the cool movies: “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Alien,” “Predator”, you name it, we probably had it. We also taped a lot of classics: Black and white detective films, Shirley Temple flicks, and of course, war movies made in the 50s and 60s. One of my Dad’s favorites was “The Great Escape.” I’ll admit now that I enjoyed it too, though at the time I would roll my eyes and whine.

“A war movie again? I wanna watch The Goonies.” I loved “The Goonies.” I even had the game for my Super Nintendo. But “The Great Escape” it would be, or “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” or possibly “The Dirty Dozen.” And though I claimed not to like them, and though I could have gone off and done something else, I stayed and watched. Because they were good, darn it. And you know what? When my kids are a little older, I’ll probably make them watch them too. And they’ll probably complain, and say they’d rather watch “Harry Potter.” But I’ll bet you they’ll stay and watch anyway, just like I did, and they’ll appreciate it later in life too.

If you’re interested in the true story behind “The Great Escape,” here are a couple of links to start you off:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalag_Luft_III_escape#The_.22Great_Escape.22

http://www.elsham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/gt_esc/

Cutting My Losses

I’m 40,448 words into my first draft, and I have lost sight of the plot.

I love my characters, and I love several of the scenes that I’ve written, but I can no longer make them work together in a way that makes sense. I think I’ve known for a while, but despite this knowledge, stubbornly pressed on. First drafts are bad, everyone says. A first draft doesn’t have to make sense. Just finish it and fix it later. That’s what editing is for. I agree that this is true, to an extent. But sometimes there comes a point when things are so messed up, it is better to cut your losses.

So, I’m backing off. I am shelving the draft. Not the story, mind you. The draft. I am starting over, and this time, I will do it right. I will keep a lid on my impatience and take the time to do a proper, detailed outline. I will fully flesh out my characters. I will set parameters for my world, rather than figuring them out as I go along. I will map out my locations, set up a timeline, and get to know the full backstory. I will figure out all of the hows and whys.

After I do all of this, and only after, will I start a new first draft. And this time, I will know what is going on, and it will make sense, and it will be great.

I know that this is common sense to many writers. I’ve lost count of the number of articles and blog posts that I’ve read extolling the virtues of proper outlining. I read most of them after I’d already started. I thought I would just finish “pantsing” through the first draft, and then go back and outline before writing the second. Because that makes sense, right? Wrong. I don’t know what I was thinking there.

But it’s all good. I’ve learned my lesson now. Yes, I’m disheartened. But I will get over it. I will not look at my last attempt as a failure or a waste of time. It wasn’t. I have learned so much – SO much – through the process. I have a better sense of my characters now and their relationships with each other. I have a myriad of ideas running through my head on how the story can be improved. And, most importantly, I now know a bit more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to my personal writing process. This is a good thing. It really is.

Awards!

I have FOUR blog awards! Being a brand new blogger and all, I’m flattered beyond belief. I will try to live up to them as my blogging experience continues.

Karen over at http://karensdifferentcorners.wordpress.com/ gave me three of them last Friday, which is so sweet of her! You should go over to her blog and get to know her. She’s awesome.

I meant to post about these over the weekend, but yeah, that didn’t happen. Sorry, Karen. But here they are now! The first is The Reader Appreciation Award:

The rules for this award are as follows:

“1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
2. Answer the 9 questions below
3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy.

4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.

5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.”

Here are the questions:

What is your favorite colour?

It changes, but lately I’ve been drawn to red and robin’s egg blue. How very retro of me.

What’s your favorite animal?

Crows, because they are crazy intelligent. If they had opposable thumbs, they would probably take over.

What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

To answer the same as Karen – Coffee.

Facebook or Twitter?

I’m on Twitter more these days, so I guess I’ll go with that. But I use them for different purposes.

What is your favorite pattern?

Pattern? Hmm. Celtic knotwork.

Favorite number?

13

Favorite day of the week?

Saturday

Favorite flower?

Bleeding Heart

What is your passion?

Imagination

The second award is The Most Inspiring Blogger Award.

Now, I haven’t blogged very much 😉 but it is good encouragement, and the award challenge is fun. I’m supposed tell you seven things about myself that you probably don’t know, and then nominate other blogs to do the same.

1.  I used to have the entirety of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” memorized. I can still recite the lines along with it.

2. I lived in Indonesia from the age of 11 until 13.

3. My husband and I were high school sweethearts, and got married after college.

4. I went through a brief period of time in highschool where I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. (Thank goodness that period was brief – I wasn’t that funny)

5. I wish I had red hair like Anne Shirley

6. I love 40s retro stuff

7. I am a Dance Central freak

The 3rd award is The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, which as far as I can tell, has no requirements except to pass it on:

ALSO, a while back, Felicia Tatum over at http://followyourdreamsalways.blogspot.com/ nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award, and I feel awful that I am just now putting it up here. Thank you, Felicia! Please check out her blog. She really is a beautiful blogger.

Now for the nominees, in no particular order: (You are nominated for all of the awards, by the way, but you don’t have to do all of them if you don’t want to. I’ll understand. It’s a lot to do!)

Ellie Flynn http://petrichorgalore.blogspot.com/

Karen Robiscoe http://karenrobiscoe.com/

Keith O http://keithisaworkinprogress.wordpress.com/

M.D. Kenning http://mdkenning.com/

Sydney Aaliyah http://sydneyaaliyah.wordpress.com/

Emma McCarthy http://freejournowriter.wordpress.com/

Karen Einsel (for the Beautiful Bloggers Award, since obviously you already have the other 3) http://karensdifferentcorners.wordpress.com/

Felicia Tatum (for the top 3 awards, since obviously you already have the Beautiful Bloggers Award) http://followyourdreamsalways.blogspot.com/

And that, my friends, is that! I hope your Friday the 13th is a good one, and your weekend fantastic as well!

Finding a Balance – Writing vs. Household Management

The dishes are piling up in the sink. I’ll get to them in a minute. Right now I’m writing.

Laundry is languishing in baskets, unfolded. Rifle through them. I’m writing.

The floor is in need of vacuuming and the fridge of cleaning out. I have two pairs of slacks that I promised to hem up for a friend (and I will!), and knitting projects waiting for me in the craft bin. Sewing and knitting? I love them! But I’d rather be writing.

It’s addictive. I had no idea.

When I’m taking care of these other things, I’m jittery and grouchy. I have lines in my head. I need to get them down. I need to get my writing fix.

I’d better figure out a balance before everyone gets fed up with me. Or is this the life of a writer?

Here are a few things that have helped me. They’re probably common knowledge to more seasoned writers, but I had to figure them out the hard way:

1)      Always have a pad and pen handy for jotting down outlines and ideas, random bits of dialogue, and descriptions you don’t want to forget.

2)      If you use a laptop, keep it open and accessible. I have mine on the kitchen island. We have an open plan, and it’s right in the middle of all the household happenings. If the kids are quietly occupied (rare) and I have a minute to spare, I can type up the next couple of lines. Maybe even just a word or two. Every little bit helps.

3)      During an actual sit-down writing session (nap time and post kids’ bedtimes for me), set the task bar on “auto-hide” so you don’t clock watch or succumb to the temptation of that internet browser icon, sitting there, tempting you when you get stuck. Even better, disconnect from the internet. Also, put your phone out of reach.

4)      If you do find your fingers twitching for that phone that I’ve just told you to put out of reach, get up and do part of a chore instead. Fold a few clothes. Put a few dishes in the dishwasher. Do something useful. Sometimes a mini-break from the keyboard is all you need, and the bonus is that you get that much closer to getting your chores done.

I’m not very good at following my own advice every day, but I’m getting better.  Maybe by the end of the first draft, I’ll have a system in place.

Maybe.

And if you have any more tips for me, I would LOVE to hear them.

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